12 January 2013

The Caves, Cooper Island, and Marina Cay, Day 9/10

My son Zack and I got up early this morning, so he helped free us from the mooring and we sailed around to the Caves on Treasure Island (Norman Island) to pick up one of the moorings and wait for the family to wake up.  Privateer Bay, just a little further than the caves, looked like a great mooring field with about 5 mooring balls and a long secluded beach. The snorkeling would be great there, although better suited to a catamaran due to the anchorage's openness.

Moored outside The Caves on Treasure Island
We sat on the nets and talked for an hour before the sun finally climbed over the hill and shone onto the boat.  We ate breakfast, taking our time while the sun slowly illuminated the water near the dark caves.  

While waiting, the kids stretched out on the nets and watched the fish swimming beneath the boat.  Their "OOooohs!"  and "AAaaahhs" sounded like spectators at a fireworks show.  When finally a large turtle went gliding along under the boat, they could hold back no more and went diving overboard to catch the turtle.  Luckily, turtles swim faster than kids, otherwise we would have had to have the "Sea turtles don't make good house pets" talk.

With half the kids in the water, we decided to head for the caves.  So everyone donned gear and jumped in for the swim over to the caves.  The caves aren't too deep, but it is helpful to have an underwater flashlight when going inside.  The younger kids found the experience a little spooky, and didn't mind focusing their snorkeling around the mouth of the cave.  We searched and searched, but found no pieces of eight.

Doubloonless, we returned to the boat and readied for a sail up the pirates' Gangway, heading for my favorite island, Fallen Jerusalem.  I've found it easier to raise the main before leaving the mooring.  The sail snags less in the lazy jacks, and having the sail ready for service is probably a good fail safe against some unexpected engine problem while navigating our of an anchorage, as long as the captain considers the wind and point of sail in choosing the path out of the anchorage.

Once clear of the island, we sailed all the way to Beef Island without tacking. I found the catamaran (a Privelege 435) would sail to within about 30 degrees of the wind before forward progress slowed. I've also found that adjusting the main on the catamaran is best done with the traveler, not the main sheet.

From Beef Island, I could see two boats moored over in North Lee Bay of Fallen Jerusalem, which was very disappointing because I've never seen anyone else there. So we sailed back to Cooper Island and picked up a mooring ball there next to shore. Cooper Island Beach Club is very beautiful with landscaped plants, carefully manicured walkways, and a screensaver-worthy beach.

The older kids and I went out to snorkel Cistern Point.  Swells were fairly heavy out of the south but we still snorkeled all the way around.  Snorkeling in swells is more tiring than in calm water.  The biggest challenge is that the swells push you back and forth - the bigger the swell the farther the push.  So to hover over a spot, you have to work harder, and keep an eye on nearby reef and rock to make sure you don't get pushed into something you'd rather not.  By the time we made it all the way around Cistern Point, we were pretty tired.  Rather than swim all the way back around to the dinghy, we chose between going ashore and walking around on the land, or trying to navigate shallow reef between the beach and Cistern Point.  We chose the reef, which was quite challenging in the swells.  I look forward to trying that again without the swells.  It was one of the more exciting snorkeling trips of our vacation.

Back at the boat, we discovered we were down to 8 gallons of water in the tanks, so rather than stay at Cooper Island, we decided to head for Marina Cay for the night where we could resupply water.

The Marina Cay the fuel dock was closed, so we picked up a mooring and planned to load water first thing in the morning.  We grilled dolphin steaks on the barbecue for dinner, then went ashore for the best dessert in the BVI: the "Crazy Coconut."  We discovered this with friends on an earlier charter, it's a chocolate shell shaped like a coconut, covered in toasted coconut flakes and filled with vanilla ice cream.

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